World public opinion is currently occupied with the strikes in France and has not caught on to the latest developments in Germany. However, last weekend in Germany the coalition partner of the federal government, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), held its convention. This convention was of critical importance for both the SPD and Germany, and it was also important for Europe. If the social democrat ministers in the federal government, which is currently determining policies in Germany, were to be successful, everything would have remained as it was. But it was not so. A majority of these delegates were not happy with the policies of the federal coalition and did not think the policies were "social democrat" enough. By making decisions that could cause a government crisis, they began discussions at the beginning of this week. The Greens, who have become the second party in Germany, are watching these discussions between the Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) and SPD with pleasure.
If in Austria the negotiations of the Austrian Greens with Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) President and previous Prime Minister Stephen Kurz are to be successful, the possibility of a similar coalition in Germany could increase. Of course, both the CDU/CSU wing and SPD wing are aware that if there are early elections the German voters are going to punish them. While the CDU and CSU, despite losing some amount of power, are going to preserve their positions as the No. 1 party, the SPD is probably going to suffer the greatest defeat of its history. That means their situation is going to be worse than their current status. This reality is holding the current federal coalition together. But for how long?
The SPD convention elected its first co-presidents in SPD history. Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken became SPD’s new presidents. They both are aiming for an SPD that is “more to the left.” They also promised the SPD within the federal coalition isn’t going to remain as it is. What does this mean? The answer is simple. They are going to make new negotiations with the CDU and CSU and they will make their decision regarding the future of the government based on the result of this negotiation. The decisions made by the SPD for this goal are making the jobs of both parties at the negotiation table rather difficult. For example, they are not accepting the federal German budget as a budget without "debt." In a period when they are able to find "money sources" cheaply, they are demanding Germany make investments to increase the social prosperity of the people. They are aiming for policies that provide more support in social fields. They believe that by doing so, they are going to win back the voters that the SPD lost. They are hoping to relieve millions of retirees and people with low salaries by delivering to government some of the “inheritance that is being wasted” by some “spendthrifts” in a very rich environment, with an “inheritance tax reform.” Since 1997, we can say there is no inheritance tax in Germany.
As a subject that directly affects a proportion of their voters, this subject is among those that cannot be made a matter of bargain for CDU and CSU. Other than this, almost all of the new policies regarding the social fields that the new SPD administration are aiming for, are matters that are going to pressure the German economy and will cause new problems, according to the perspective of the CDU and CSU. However, it seems the new quarrel will be over the “inheritance tax.” Already the partners of the CDU and CSU in the federal government have made harsh statements. It seems in the month of December this argument, except for Christmas, is going to be the one that will be the most spoken of. Chancellor Angela Merkel, as if dealing with the problems within her own party CDU was not enough, has to now deal with the SPD administration. In addition to this, there is Macron with his “statements” stirring the hornets’ nest and a Johnson who is adamant at following through with Brexit if he wins the election – they are not making Chancellor Merkel’s worries any easier. It wouldn't be wrong to say that “a government crisis is imminent” in Germany. Of course, a government crisis in Germany is not going to be a positive development for the EU. When we think that a Germany which has problems at the federal level is going to shoulder the EU presidency in July 2020, the situation becomes even more curious.